Located in the southern Caribbean, Grenada remains one of the world's leading geo-tourism destinations. World Cruise Industry Review talks to Nikoyan Roberts, nautical development manager for the Grenada Tourism Authority, about why tourists can't get enough of the archipelago's unspoilt natural beauty.
Nikoyan Roberts: Grenada offers unique cultural, historical and soft-adventure activities, including kayaking, river tubing and scuba-diving. We're uniquely placed to facilitate high cruise traffic, with excellent port facilities for berthing and provisioning.
Our experienced tour operators regularly facilitate shore and sea-based excursions, which are tailored to meet the needs of any visitor demographic. Those who simply wish to relax and learn about Grenada's culture and heritage can give themselves a culinary treat, with spicy Caribbean flavours at local restaurants and bars. The Belmont Spice Plantation, in particular, offers learning tours that demonstrate how organically grown cocoa is processed to produce delicious, high-quality Grenada chocolate.
The more adventurous traveller, on the other hand, can choose to snorkel or dive in Grenada's underwater sculpture park, featuring almost one hundred pieces of 'living art'. The underwater sculpture park is located in the Moliniere-Beausejour Marine Protected Area and was chosen by National Geographic magazine as one of the 25 top places to visit on Earth.
From 24 September 2014 to 25 April 2015, Grenada and Carriacou welcomed 171 cruise calls and 238,000 visitors, with visitor spending of EC$26.5 million. During the 2014-15 cruise winter season, there were 11 calls from cruises that hadn't previously visited the island.
In the forthcoming 2015-16 cruise winter season, Grenada is expected to receive 236 cruise calls, with an overall passenger capacity of 357,019 and an overall crew capacity of 140,423. A highlight will be the arrival of P&O's new vessel Britannia, which is expected to make an inaugural call to Grenada on 5 November. We're also excited to begin receiving weekly summer calls from the MV Adriana of West Indies Cruise Line. This smaller cruise ship was previously operated in the Black Sea, but will commence sailing from its home port in Trinidad to the southern Caribbean destinations of Isla Margarita, Grenada, Barbados and Tobago over summer. The calls are expected to continue until January 2016.
Grenada's cruise successes are definitely a result of the country's consistent public and private sector business partnerships. The Grenada Tourism Authority works very closely with the Grenada Ports Authority and the Ministry of Tourism, promoting and marketing the destination at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami Trade Show and the FCCA's Cruise Conference and Trade Show. Both organisations signed a memorandum of understanding in 2015, to share promotional and advertising expenses. We fully expect that these collaborative marketing actions will continue in 2016.
George F Huggins is one of Grenada's proactive port shipping agents and tour services companies. It has worked diligently to conduct business meetings and network with cruise line executives including the FCCA, continuing to increase the numbers of cruise calls and enhance the visitor experience in Grenada and Carriacou.
The Calypso Island is a new attraction being prepared for cruise passenger visits from September 2015. This islet off the coast of Halifax Bay, on Grenada's west coast, will offer day charters, snorkeling and kayaking, bird watching, and - of course - wonderful Caribbean cocktails and barbecued treats at the attraction's bar and restaurant.